Taking Another Look At iOS Gaming

Gaming on iOS has been given a hard time for years now. Apple is forever being criticised because the Apple TV, and the rest of their product ecosystem haven’t made all other gaming platforms obsolete. In this sense, Apple is a victim of its own success to a certain extent.

Unless Apple is completely dominating the market it’s in, to many people, they are instantly a failure. Gaming here is no exception it seems.

I, personally, think people need to reconsider iOS gaming and appreciate it for what it is. No, the Apple TV wont replace your Xbox One, or even your Switch, but it doesn’t have to to still be a very compelling platform.

I’ve been gaming a fair bit on iOS recently, in particular on my 2018 iPad Pro 12.9”. On it’s own it’s a really compelling device for gaming, and there are some very impressive, console / PC quality games (see Civ VI for example). When you pair the iPad with an MFi controller, such as the SteelSeries Nimbus many of the already fantastic games on iOS are improved exponentially. When you consider the prices of such impressive games, it’s even more mind blowing.

Some examples of some great games that a controller helps move to the next level are the fantastic Oddmar, which is an insanely cheap £4.99 and Grimvalor. These are both, at their heart, platform games, which have never played all that well via a touchscreen, but quickly hooking up my Nimbus and they are very impressive, deep and engaging games. They would probably be a bit out of place on an Xbox, but I can totally imagine playing, and spending twice the amount on these games for my Switch any day of the week.

Oddmar

There are also a likely a lot more games that support controllers on iOS than you’d think. I found the list below on Reddit which gives you a good idea of some of the gems. The lists include:

  • Galaxy on Fire 2
  • Bastion
  • Wayward Souls
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Evoland 2
  • Asphalt 8
  • Modern Combat 5
  • Terraria
  • Minecraft
  • Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
  • GRID
  • Transistor
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Multiple Final Fantasy games

If you have an iPad, which I assume you do if you’re reading this site, I would highly recommend you give gaming on iOS another look if you’ve been avoiding it for a while. There’s a lot to love here, even if Apple hasn’t put the rest of the gaming industry out of business. Why anyone would look to that as a reason to put value in something I have no idea.

🎮 My Top 5 Most Played Switch Games

Due to a recent Nintendo Switch update, you can now re-order your game library in various different ways. One that I found interesting was ‘Play time’ order. I’ve had my beloved Switch since launch day in the UK, so I thought it was quite interesting to take a look at what my top 5 most played games have been so far.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

BoTW

What else could take the top spot but the Switch’s flagship game? I played this for hours on end when I first got my Switch, but then my buying bug took over and I ended up being distracted about ¾ of the way through the game. Fast forward almost a year later and I finally went back to it and finished off the main questline and the two DLC additions that came post-launch.

I’ve always been a massive Legend of Zelda fan, but this game really reignited my love for the franchise. I’ve since picked up another Wii U (after selling my original one) with copies of Twilight Princess and Windwaker HD so I can continue getting my Zelda fix.

2) Paladins

Paladins

While my number 1 spot was an obvious one to me, and likely you, my second most played game surprised me. Close behind Zelda is the Free-to-Play objective-based team first-person shooter from Hi-Rez Studios, Paladins: Champions of the Realm.

While this is, as said above, a Free-to-Play game, I spent £20 on the Founders Pack that unlocks all of the many characters and, while I’m awful at the game, I have an absolute blast playing it. I don’t know how popular the game is, but amongst my small circle of online friends I very rarely hear many people talk about it, which is a shame. While it’s competative nature likely puts a lot of people off, I can highly recommend giving the game a try.

An issue with team based games like this, however, especially on the Switch with its lack of decent voice communication, is that it can be quite difficult to find a decent team. Running off and trying to kill the enemy team alone wont cut it, you really do need to work together. If you end up on a team full of teammates doing their own thing, it wont matter how good you are, you’re going to have a bad time. If, however, you can either play with some buddies or you can find some random people that understand how to work as a team, it really can be extremely fun.

3) Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey

After the unexpected inclusion of Paladins, we’re back with something far more expected, namely the fantastic flagship Mario title on the Switch. The time spent in the game to get it to number 3 was, essentially, the time spent to complete the game on its initial playthrough. I’m yet to revisit all of the lands to find the various extra Moons that are added after finishing it once. To this end, there is still a lot more to get out of this game, which is great news for me. I’m looking forward to forgetting about it a little and then jumping back in to experience it all over again, now with added challenge.

4) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim

Skyrim was released early on in the Switch’s lifecyce so this time has built up over this time due to me dipping in and out as the mood takes me. While the game is looking fairly dated now, in modern terms, it’s still pretty incredible how good it looks on such, relatively, underpowered hardware. I remember owning this game on the PS2 (or maybe the PS3, I can’t quite remeber) but what I do recall is that the loading times were atrocious. On the Switch, however, they are far better, which is a nice added bonus.

I’ve no idea where I am with the story in Skyrim, I’m just moving from quest to quest knocking them off. It works really well as a game to just dip in and out of. Like Mario Odyssey, I think I’ve got many hours left on this particular game.

5) Smite

Smite

Smite is an Action MOBA or an Action Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game. This is the newest game on my top 5 list, so it’s impressive how I’ve racked up so many hours on it already to be honest.

In Smite you pick a God (from various pantheons) ranging from Ancient Greece, Norse, Egyptian, Roman and many more and join a team of another 4 Gods, fighting an enemy team of another 5 Gods. Much like Paladins, I’m bad at the game, but find it very enjoyable. Also, and once again much like Paladins, if you’re stuck with a bad team you may as well give up from the start, but if you get into a good team you can really have a great time in this game.

I, again, paid an upfront cost to unlock to 100+ Gods from the start, when it was released a few months ago. It is quite daunting trying to learn a game with so many characters to get your head around, but it’s well worth your effort to give it a try.

What does your top 5 list look like? I would imagine Zelda has to be up there for pretty much all Switch owners, but the other 4 slots could go anywhere.

🎮 My Wizard of Oz Moment

If you’ve listened to the latest episode of the podcast you would have heard that I’ve been on a bit of a gaming kick recently, more so than I have for a while. I mentioned there that a lot of my time is spent on the Nintendo Switch, despite also owning a screaming fast Xbox One X, so I took a bit of time out to try and understand what the draw is of the Switch, and Nintendo in general.

From an early age, my life was full of adventure and wonder. By the time I had hit my early teen years I had already been on an epic quest to save a princess, I’d visited the stars and even raced a hovercar in the year 2560 at breakneck speeds. Life was good and the future was truly bright. I could do anything.

Role forward another twenty years or so, to early 2019, and the bright future I had been promised was nowhere to be seen. The colourful splendor of my youth had dissipated, only to be replaced with a heavy grey sheen of despair. My life was no longer full of honourable quests and laughing with friends. It was full of monotonous tasks such as the daily commute and a repetitive need to bang my head against a brick wall, metaphorically speaking of course. My life had become a monochromatic reflection of its former glory. Don’t get me wrong, I have a loving family, a good job and my health, but there is an aspect of my life that was in dire need of some colour. I needed a ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment, in that my life, like Dorothy’s, will change from a dull sepia to vivid life and colour.

Very recently I finally had my ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment. My life, once devoid of hope and luminosity, once again exploded into colour. What I am trying to say, via the use of some very convoluted metaphors, is that Shuntaro Furukawa and his company Nintendo were back in my life, thanks to the purchase of the Nintendo Switch. I had owned the Wii U (and Wii) prior to this, but the Wii U just didn’t grab my imagination like the Switch did, and continues to do.

img_1678

Since its release at the start of 2017, the system has seemingly exploded. Initially, at least, it was unlikely to be anyones primary console, but it lends itself to be a perfect secondary one. It feels like this has been a major contributing factor to the sales phenomenon the Switch has turned out to be. The flexibility of it’s use-case, as a home console or mobile device ticks so many boxes, and can easily be justified as a companion to an Xbox, not a replacement.

I’ve been a big fan of my Xbox (of various generations) over the years, and again continue to enjoy it, but after hour 500 in Destiny, having torn through thousands upon thousands of repetitive monsters, the grey drabness I mentioned above really started to sink in. I started to miss the colour, energy and pure joy that is a Nintendo console and it’s enviable pile of fantastic IPs.

I recalled my fondest gaming memories, such as playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, a game that remains one of my favourite of all time, and of endless multiplayer matches of Goldeneye and Street Fighter 2 with my brother. The list went on and on, with a single, very important link (pun intended) binding my happy memories together. That link being, of course, Nintendo.

My hunger for new Nintendo hardware was not hampered by the lackluster Wii U. The device felt cheap, it didn’t work well and the game catalog ended up being attrocious, but the console did act as yet another example of Nintendo not resting on its laurels and not following the crowd. It was something different, unique and it turns out it formed the very core foundation of what would become the Nintendo Switch.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch

When I started to see some of the announcement videos, as the launch date approached, I was both very nervous they could actually pull of what was promised this time, still tainted by the Wii U, but also completely on board. if anyone deserves my trust and loyalty when it comes to gaming, it’s Nintendo. It turns out this trust paid off, big time.

The console, as is the hallmark for Nintendo, took past design cues, both those that were successful, and those less so, and evolved the Wii U design into something that both looks, and feels, leaps and bounds ahead of what came before it. The console felt mature, yet maintained so many of the nice, family friendly characteristics that make Nintendo Nintendo, from the quirky dual controllers that can pop up for a quick 2 player action, to the smart colours and designs.

The strength of Nintendo’s past offerings has always sat with their first party games featuring Link, Mario, Kirby et al. This hasn’t changed with the Switch, but something that even Nintendo didn’t bank on, I’d imagine, is the incredibly strong third party support from incredible feats of engineering with ports of Doom and Wolfenstein 2, to unbelievable support from the indie community. Games such as The Messenger and Celeste are some of my favourite games on the system. While these are not Switch exclusives, they do feel so incredibly at home on the dynamic little console.

The point of this short article was not to review the Switch, it’s a bit late for that at this point. It was more to share a thought that gamers need to start remembering what it is that drew them towards the hobby in the first place. I can appreciate that we’re a diverse race, and we all have different ideas of what is fun and enjoyable. If the best graphics and realism are key for you, then by all means keep buying the Playstation 4’s and XBox One’s of this world. If, however, you yearn for a return to pure, and unadulterated fun in your life, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not picking yourself up a Switch and jumping into some of the most relaxing, empowering and enjoyable gaming experiences available today. I defy you to fire up Mario Kart 8 and not feel a massive grin crawl across your face …

I will always have an affinity to Nintendo, but systems like the Switch not only cement this for me and bring that much needed colour back into my life, but it will no doubt turn a whole new generation of young gamers onto the fun, lighthearted side of gaming that is needed now, more than ever.​

🔗 PAL Keys - A Link To The Past

As I mentioned in Episode 19 of the podcast, I want to focus my time, both on the blog and elsewhere, on positivity and things that I enjoy. To this end, alongside the tech, I’m keen to put a bit more emphasis on gaming as well. I’ve even started to stream a little more frequently to my Mixer account. I have, however, realised being a streamer is far harder than I imagined. It turns out all I do is mumble to myself like some kind of mad man …

Gaming was one of my first passions, way before more fruit based technology took a hold of me. I look back fondly on many an hour spent on the Atari ST, my first computer system I recall with any form of gaming capabilities.

To date, my passion for gaming, and podcasts, have remained largely disparate. I try to listen to a few more genres than just technology, but gaming podcasts have been largely lacking from my library. That looks to be changing, however.

Daryl Baxter of The Outpost Show fame recently announced a new show, PAL Keys which sounds right in my wheelhouse.

Each episode will feature an interview with a different guest, talking about their favourite game and boss stage. This sounds like a really interesting take on an interview show. Nothing gets to the soul of an individual better than a deep dive into their gaming past. This premise has certainly got me thinking about some of my own favourite games and gaming moments, from the, then, heartbreaking death of Aerith in Final Fantasy VII (apologies if this is a spoiler!) to hours spent getting a kicking from my brother playing as Ken in Street Fighter II on the SNES.

I’m really looking forward to remembering even more ghosts of gaming past, via PAL Keys and the guests Daryl will be speaking to, over the coming weeks and months. I need to ask Daryl for the cheat codes he’s using to keep coming up with such great content.

You can subscribe to the show on iTunes now and listen to a short introduction to the show, prior to the first true episode launching on 11/01.